A rat neuron before (top) and after (bottom) ketamine treatment. The increased number of orange nodes are restored connections in the rat's brain.
- Ronald Duman/Yale University
Ketamine is an FDA approved anesthetic drug that has been used in hospitals worldwide since the 1960s. In the last few years numerous articles in medical journals have shown efficacy in using ketamine in sub-anesthetic doses to treat depression and some chronic pain syndromes.
The current research shows that Ketamine works by blocking the NMDA receptor which increases the levels of Glutamate. Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. This increase will activate the AMPA receptor increasing the release of BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This factor is responsible for repair of damaged neurons with regrowth of important dendrites and synapses needed to achieve a normal mood.
Ketamine has been shown to be effective in treating several mood disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and OCD.